Alsea, along with many other communities, is recovering from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Rising costs of gas, goods, and housing have made basic needs much harder to meet for many individuals and families. Reducing these stresors allows families to place more focus on their students and their education, so Alsea School District is creating solutions to support families. All of this adds up to a better educational experience for everyone involved.
To ensure that all Alsea students started the 22-23 school year well-equipped for success in learning, Sara Littlefield, coordinator of Alsea School Family Outreach, partnered with Vina Moses Thrift Store of Corvallis to help meet the needs of Alsea School families. The goal of Vina Moses Center is to “provide relief and build resilience in Benton Counties underserved communities.” The Vina Moses Center has been running its Back-to-School program from their income-dependent, no-cost community thrift shop on Garfield Avenue in Corvallis for nearly 30 years, with a history of clothing distributions going back to World War 1.
(For more information, visit https://www.vinamoses.org/). The Back-to-School program provides new and gently used clothing, backpacks, school supplies, and a $30 gift certificate to purchase each student a pair of shoes.
Because of the chronic transportation challenges for folks living in isolated areas, Vina Moses hasn’t had the turnout at their Back-To-School events that they would like to see from rural communities such as Alsea. In 2021, the center had 21 program applicants from Alsea, but only three of the applicants attended the distribution event. This year, Vina Moses and Alsea School District decided to bring the Back-To-School program directly to Alsea.
Vina Moses volunteers delivered and unloaded enough back-to-school goods for 50 children. A crew of Alsea High School students enrolled in the Alsea Summer Workforce Program spent a day setting up racks on the stage, sorting and hanging clothing, and making signs to guide those who came to the event. (For more information on the summer work program see: https://alsea.k12.or.us/2022/10/19/amazing-summers-at-alsea-school/.) The event was lightly advertised on Facebook and the school website, while flyers were posted around town.
Sara Littlefield had no idea what community response might be when the event started at 3pm on Thursday, August 11. First one small family made their way to the stage, then another, then another. By the time the event ended, long past the scheduled end time of 7pm, a total of 18 families with 38 children received back to school supplies and clothing.
Thanks to the hard work and resourcefulness of Sara Littlefield, the Back-to-School Program’s pilot year at Alsea School was a remarkable success and the start of a new tradition. Partnering with Vina Moses, the hope is to double the size of the popup shop next fall. Huge thanks to everyone who helped out with the event, and to Vina Moses for supplying and delivering the back-to-school goods for Alsea families.
Families or students can contact Sara Littlefield for assistance in any area of student or family support at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 487-5664. You can also find her office by the front door of the school. “I believe in community, and I believe that by supporting families we can bring our community closer together,” says Sara. Look for an upcoming article with more information about Alsea School Family Outreach.
WAYS YOU CAN HELP Sara asks for donations to the Family Outreach: “Shoes are always needed, preferably sneakers/athletic shoes, [and] diapers are a great help. Also, anyone looking to do handiwork on a volunteer basis when families need things like water heater installation, weatherization, broken toilets replaced, that sort of thing. It would be on an infrequent basis. Due to limited storage, please call before bringing any other donations at this time, especially if they are large. Monetary donations as well as gas cards, grocery cards, etc., are always welcome.”
For questions about this article, please contact the Public Information Officer at Alsea School District at email@example.com.